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Despite smooth first day of legalization, high demand could delay deliveries in Ontario, government says

Despite smooth first day of legalization, high demand could delay deliveries in Ontario, government says legal jpg


Talk about a post-party crasher.

Leafly Canada managing director Jo Vos had just finished hosting her company’s legalized pot ring-in early Wednesday and was curled up at home ready to place her online order with Ontario’s cannabis store.

But when the executive with the world’s largest cannabis resource firm tried to make that e-commerce purchase, she couldn’t.

“It was 3 a.m. … and I was very excited to place my first legal order,” says Vos, whose College St. party had been attended by hundreds.

“And unfortunately, the site crashed.”

As embarrassingly high profile as this online gaffe may have been, it was one of a scattered handful of any kind reported across the country during Canada’s historic first day of legal pot sales.

“I think the rollout really has gone extremely smoothly,” says Rod Elliot, a cannabis expert with Toronto consulting firm Global Public Affairs.

“We’ve seen Canadians from all walks of life … flocking to retail stores, and the online purchasing systems have nearly been flawless.”

A spokesperson for the Ontario Cannabis Store, which runs the province’s online shopping site, says there were few problems recorded on an extraordinarily busy day.

“The site has been preforming well,” says Daffyd Roderick, the OCS’s communications director. “It is handling volume fine, no major issues.”

While Roderick had no firm transaction numbers Wednesday, an email from online shopping giant Shopify said there was an average of 100 transactions a minute being recorded across the four provincial sites the Ottawa-based company had built.

“In the first 12 hours of legalized cannabis sales we saw millions of visitors to the stores, with tens of thousands of transactions,” said a release from Shopify, which powers the online cannabis stores in Newfoundland, P.E.I., Ontario and B.C.

“In the first 24 hours, we expect hundreds of thousands of orders. In the first week, we expect millions of orders.”

The company says its four sites had no outages over the busiest parts of the day and vice-president Loren Padelford told The Canadian Press they’d attracted millions of visitors from across the globe. Canadians can only place orders in their home provinces.

One possible downside for eager Ontarians: The OCS was warning Wednesday afternoon that the high demand might extend anticipated delivery times of one to three days to as many as five.

In Alberta, the provincially run website was temporarily overwhelmed during the early morning but was back up and running by daylight.

In Toronto, there were about 20 cannabis-related calls to the city’s 311 non-emergency services number as of Wednesday afternoon.

Most of these callers were seeking information rather an outlet to carp, says Mark Sraga, the city’s director of investigation services.

Sraga says that of the estimated 97 illegal pot shops that had sprung up in the city over the years, 36 remained open Wednesday.

“We’ll be continuing our monitoring and taking appropriate enforcement actions,” he said, adding there were no set time lines for such moves. “But there will be actions taken is all I can say.”

More clandestine dealers were also still at work Wednesday, with at last one brazenly shoving flyers through mail slots in the city.

“We’re just a small operation and we want to keep thing low key,” said a man who answered the phone number on the Toronto’s Finest Marijuana Products advertisement.

“We don’t want to get any more attention than we have,” said the man, who did not want to give his name but whose operation was promising free deliveries to its customers, who had to be 19 and older.

If there were problems with the rollout they were more systemic in nature and liable to linger for months, says Matei Olaru, CEO of Toronto’s Lift & Co., a cannabis industry information and resource company.

In particular, Olaru says, there are shortages in the amount of cannabis products required to supply the legal market in Ontario.

This, Olaru says, is likely the reason online sites produced so few of the tailored options their search functions were built to offer to customers, based on their needs and experience preferences.

He says most licensed producers — there are 32 supplying Ontario — have the infrastructure and capital backing to satisfy demand.

“I just don’t think they have their stuff ready so the searches are probably lacking,” Olaru says.

He says that producers just need more time to grow the increased volumes and strains to properly fill market needs.

He also says new excise seals that producers were recently required to place on all packaging have slowed shipments to distribution centres.

“I think by this time next week we’ll see confirmation that the shortage of product that everyone was expecting is very real,” says Olaru, who estimates it could last well into 2020.


Source : TheStar

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